A group of students in a workshop

Ambassador view: volunteering

Hi everyone! My name’s Esther and I’m a 2nd year Land Economy student at the University of Cambridge. I live in Kent, and I’m originally from Nigeria.

Throughout the years, I’ve had a variety of experiences with volunteering that have ended up being useful to me in plenty of different ways. From volunteering at the Christmas FoodBank collection with my local Tesco, to collecting donations for the homeless and creating care packages during my NCS Social Action project, to now being an ambassador at university and volunteering at access and outreach events. Through these various experiences, it has become increasingly evident to me, particularly as a young person, just how vital volunteering is and the numerous benefits it offers.

Beyond me, the significance of volunteering is gradually gaining recognition. In fact, many companies now offer their employees paid ‘giving days’ where they get to take paid time off work, and dedicate it to a cause that they care about. This not only signifies the increasing recognition of the value of volunteering but also underscores the necessity for more people to actively engage and lend a helping hand.

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Finding volunteering opportunities

Often people want to start volunteering but are unsure where to begin. There are plenty of websites that help individuals to find ways to volunteer, one of them being https://doit.life/volunteer. On this site, you can filter by location, interests and even outcomes - which allows you to easily filter through and find something that could work really well for you! Some people and organisations often post volunteer vacancies on LinkedIn, and so you can also keep your eye out for that as you scroll through!

Volunteering can be a great chance to further explore interests that you already have, or alternatively, to step out of your comfort zone and try something new.

The importance and value of volunteering

Volunteering is all about offering up your service free of charge, and this is really important as it allows anybody to be able to access the help that you have to offer! Charitable organisations, non-profits and similar entities have a crucial objective: to maximise the impact of their funding on the individuals they aim to help or reach. By relying on the support of volunteers, these organisations can allocate less of their resources towards wages and more towards making a meaningful difference.

Furthermore, volunteering presents an opportunity to provide individuals with access to opportunities they may not have been able to afford otherwise. For example, the app EasyA offers free maths tutoring to students, by using other volunteer students. Equal access to education is a rather important topic that often comes up in discussions about equality. It is crucial to ensure that everyone, regardless of their financial situation, has the opportunity to receive one-on-one educational support.

The benefits of volunteering (both personal and professional)

As I briefly mentioned before, volunteering can be a great way to further explore something that you already have an interest in, or try out something that you’ve been wanting to do.

For example, if there is a particular sport or activity that you enjoy, a great way to give back could be by offering free lessons and sessions to help out younger people who love the same thing! Or, let's say that you wanted to get into community outreach, you may be able to volunteer at a retirement home and get to have frequent conversations with older members of society. Both of these sides of the spectrum are great, because you get to make a difference, but also hopefully have some amazing experiences and get to talk to new people (from a variety of ages and backgrounds).

As well as the internal satisfaction of giving back, volunteering can also be a great way to build new skills and even have something to talk about in applications. Whether it’s for a job or a university place, volunteering can give you lots of things to draw on. For example, becoming a student volunteer for access and outreach events would give you the opportunity to be able to work on skills like conversing with new people, presenting (and perhaps even simplifying) new ideas and information. Interpersonal skills and the ability to be concise are highly valued qualities in many professions and interactions, allowing you to make people comfortable and engaged with clear information.

“This all sounds great, but I’m not sure if I have enough free time.”

Another exciting thing about volunteering is that the opportunities are usually very flexible. Volunteering commitment can range from an event a year to perhaps working every weekend with an organisation. The important thing to remember is that people are grateful for the help, and every little counts! So it’s okay to schedule volunteering into the free moments that you find, as long as you’re communicating your availability well.

All in all

To somewhat summarise everything that I’ve said - volunteering is an amazing thing! It means that we all get to spend time helping others, and truly doing our small part in making the world a better place.

Whether you’re an introvert, a busy person, someone who’s never volunteered, or even someone looking to gain experience in a new area - there’s a volunteering opportunity out there for you! I’d encourage everyone to get out there and find an organisation that would love to have you helping out.

Visit the Uptree platform to find out about upcoming opportunities.

By Uptree
Published on: Thu 8 Jun 2023

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